- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2002

Mothers sometimes go through various degrees of good old-fashioned guilt when it's time to leave the little ones to go off to work. For those of us who wrestle with careers vs. jobs, the decision is no different. Who we leave the children with, however, always spins on the dollars and cents of the matter. That is the bottom line that determines whether we deliver our young ones into the hands of a private care-giver, nursery school, or early childhood program, where they'll be able to mingle and play with other children their age. For the average working mother, the latter is the only option and those are the children President Bush is trying to help with his new early childhood initiative.

Unveiled this week, the Bush initiative proposes strengthening the teaching and educational components of such programs as Head Start, so that youngsters really and truly are taught "the building blocks for reading" before attending kindergarten and it is about time. He plans to do this by allocating funds to specifically establish curriculum and train teachers, and by allocating funds to study the effects of such programs. Of course, he will have to have blessings from Congress, and that is where your voice comes in.

As you might expect, his initiative has drawn the usual show-me-the-money comments from the usual suspects. These liberals and their like-minded lobbyist buddies, experts at pinning the dollar on the donkey, claim the Bush plan does not include new resources, that he hasn't turned on the spigot. Never mind that his proposal tries to raise the literacy stakes, and who cares whether his proposal would force Head Start teachers to, well, teach. All the bearers of the status quo want is more money.

This debate is very intriguing for several reasons. For one, organizations such as Marian Wright Edelman's Children's Defense Fund (CDF) have, for years, complained about the quantity and quality of child-care and early childhood programs. And bless their hearts for advocating for our babies. But, on the one hand, the CDF complains that "only one in seven children eligible for federal child-care assistance gets it" and that millions of child-care providers earn "unacceptably low wages." Then, on the other hand, when Mr. Bush proposes training providers to raise the bar on standards, the National Head Start Association argues that Mr. Bush's plan to train 50,000 Head Start teachers and test the little ones to see if they are indeed learning their ABCs "is reckless" and that he should instead address "the shortcomings in the K-12 system."

Of course, none of the critics thumbed their noses at the $130 million.

Indeed, Sen. Jim Jeffords, who apparently wants to carry water for Sen. Teddy Kennedy and other silver-spooned liberals, said this of the Bush plan: "The president's is a first good step, but we need to do so much more."

Ain't that the truth.

But who do you really think knows best? First Lady Laura Bush, a former school teacher and librarian? Or Mr. Jeffords, Mr. Kennedy and the other silver spoons, whose children hardly attend troubled public schools and who hardly know what's it's like to literally watch the clock go tick, tick, tick while the child-care provider goes ka-ching, ka-ching because you're 20 minutes late picking up your child?

Let me tell you a little story. A father of two who happens to be a D.C. Council member introduced legislation last year that would force parents of toddlers to send their children to D.C. schools. This father, whose name is Kevin Chavous and who sends his children to private school, thinks that having school teachers and principals as the primary caretakers of children 2-to-4-years-old would be the best thing that could ever happen to them. But I ask you: How long do you think you could as a loving mother or father hold up in a classroom of eight to 10 toddlers before yelling, "Time out"?

I mean really. Just how competent will their teachers be? How much of a financial burden will such nonsense place on already strapped school systems? What about the school buildings themselves? Are they that toddler-friendly? How much would it cost to make them toddler-friendly? And what about transportation? Just how are these toddlers going to get to and from school safely, that is if their moms and dads are at work?

I tell you, sometimes I think our lawmakers are in cahoots with the devil himself.

Seriously, too, they don't know beans.

These folks don't really and truly have the best interests of the child in mind. Some of them simply cannot relate, and we parents are sometimes too lame to stand up, step forward and call their bluff. We expect and wait for someone else to step forward and call them what they are: grade A, homogenized poverty-pimps.

If we're going to start turning our impressionable 2- and 3-year-olds over to the government to indoctrinate, I mean educate, then why not just turn them over straight out of the womb? Let the government raise them from Jump Street thru Sesame Street and straight on through to college.

As a matter of fact, let's just do away with parents altogether and see where that'll get us.


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